19 Jun 2012
Greg Garner of England has been appointed to referee the Final of the Junior World Championship, clearly a most prestigious appointment made by top refereeing officials of the International Rugby Board.
The IRB's top selectors are in Cape Town for the tournament - Tappe Henning, Donal Courtney, Lyndon Bray and Clayton Thomas with the IRB's refereeing manager Paddy O'Brien. They chose Garner to do the Final.
The referee who refereed last year's Final, Jaco Peyper is now on the IRB's merit panel of nine referees. Clearly, Garner has great opportunities. While such positions are not nationality bound it is strange that England does not have one on the panel, since the dropping of Wayne Barnes and Dave Pearson.
Garner started refereeing in 2000, going the route of many injuries injured player, schoolmaster. He played for Nottingham University, damaged a shoulder one year and sustained a gash behind his ear the next year., A maths teacher and a rugby player meant that inevitably he refereed schools matches. The taste for refereeing, the love of the game, the warning of injury and the persuasion of Ian Roberts sent him to the Warwickshire Referees' Society.
His progress has been good and he is now an ex-maths teacher for he is currently a full-time, professional referee, free to roam the world as top referees do. Apart from England's Premiership, Garner has refereed in the Heineken Cup, the Amlin Challenge Cup, the LV= Cup, the Churchill Cup, the Nations Cup and the European Nations Cup. In this there are Test matches -0 Canada vs Georgia, Portugal vs Namibia, Russia vs Romania and Georgia vs Spain.
For him the highlights of his career have been the Commonwealth Games Sevens in Delhi in 2010, refereeing Saracens vs Harlequins at Wembley this season in front a world record crowd, the Churchill Cup in Denver in 2009 and the Junior World Rugby Championship in Italy in 2011 when refereed the semifinal between New Zealand and Australia. This time it's the Final.
What he likes about refereeing: "Being able to be involved in top class matches and being able to watch them from the middle of the pitch. I've been to a lot of great places around the world that I wouldn't have been to without rugby and I've met some fantastic people along the way."
Greg Garner was born in Coventry on 26 June 1980. He is married and the father of a nine-month-old baby boy, called George.